Friday, June 3, 2011


difficulty rating: bottle short of a six pack
say it with me now, it's fun to roll the R's: RRRRRRAATATOEEEEE! this was originally for the crock pot but i found it didn't fit in mine so i just do it in a stock pot on med-low heat. if you're shopping at a green grocer this is dirt cheep and would be easily doubled for a crowd. it takes time but once you've got everything cut up you can just ignore it for the most part. would make impressive dinner party food for a harvest festival or something, especially when paired with home made bread, preferably of the garlic variety. i've developed a fondness for french peasant food. i've also learned that simple, good quality ingredients treated with respect will get you much better results then a ton of complicated add-ins and if something looks like it won't work, it probably won't (see tomato mustard pie) what does work is letting all the liquid in the veggies slowly become the base for a thick stew, mmmmm:
1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 medium onions, or one large, chopped into 1/2" pieces
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (about 3 medium)
1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch squares
1 large red bell peppers or 1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch squares
3 medium zucchini, cut in 1/2" slices, the cut slices into quarters so you have roughly 1/2" cubes
4-6 large mushrooms, any kind you like, chopped into 1/2"-3/4" cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil, aproximate, i just add a good splash
3 tablespoons dried basil (or more of fresh if you have it)
1 tablespoon dried dill (or more of fresh if you have it)
2-4 garlic cloves, crushed or minced, i love my garlic grinder
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, or more if you like
salt, to taste
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 jar pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped or buy the sliced kind
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled, i often use the low-fat kind

add oil to stock pot, cut up all the veggies and dump in along with the garlic and other spices. stir together more or less.
put a lid on the pot and turn the heat to med-low. wander away. go make bread.
stir every 30 min or so for 1 1/2-2 hours, until the veggies are starting to go a little mushy and there's plenty of liquid in the bottom. it starts cooking a lot faster at this stage, if your bread isn't done turn the heat to as low as it will go and it'll hold for another 30 min while you finish that. stir in your olives and tomato paste, taste and adjust seasonings. i usually let it simmer for 10 min or so at this stage to let the flavors blend
serve with a healthy sprinkling of feta and a couple pieces of bread per person. regardless of this being vegetarian, it is very filling so don't fill large bowls!
this also reheats well. i often take it to work for lunch for several days after i make it and fend off drooling coworkers
for the health conscious: this is extremely high in fiber and very low in calories. it doesn't have a ton of protein but you could add some meat or veggie substitute if you want to up that. it has a moderate amount of fat and sodium from the olives and olive oil. you can use less oil if you like and less or no olives. don't skip the feta. it really balances the whole thing out. you don't need a ton and you can use low fat if you like
for the lazy: enlist the other people eating this to chop veggies and make an evening of it. you can chat and linger over wine while it cooks. wouldn't hurt to add a splash to the pot too. you can make my garlic bread with store bought french bread if needed, it's still a lot better then the stuff pre-smeared with who knows what and wrapped in paper/foil bags. you can also buy pre-crumbled feta and pre-sliced olives if you want.
makes about 6 servings. i'm told it's good cold as well or used as a topping for baked potatoes or pasta. will have to try that.

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